The Monitor Audio Silver 100 7G Limited Edition is the last monitor loudspeaker I am evaluating this year. And since ‘the last shall be first’, we granted it the Bookshelf Speaker 2022 Award.
To celebrate its 50th anniversary, Monitor Audio released the prototype "Concept 50" and presented a limited edition of 999 Silver 100 7Gs at HighEnd 2022, in Munich.
Pedro Henriques was at the press conference. Read the full report here, which also includes a video of the prototype presentation.
"Concept 50" is more of a technical statement than a commercial product, so it is not yet available (and I have no idea if it will ever be). The "Concept 50" was developed by Michael Hedges, Monitor Audio's technical director, and Charles Minnet, to show how far the company could go with the technologies already at its disposal. And judging by the reaction of Pedro Henriques after hearing the Concept 50 in Munich, Monitor Audio is a big step closer to perfection (watch video below).
The more mundane (and affordable - €1300) Silver 100 7G Limited Edition is a "Green and Gold" version of the classic Silver 100. You’ll have to pay an extra €200 for this special cosmetic treatment, which includes military-green lacquering and a gold-anodised mid/bass driver.
...the Silver 100 7G Limited Edition is the "Green and Gold" version of the classic retail version...
If you opt for the standard version instead, you just pay €1115 for the pair, and the sound quality should be the same - in principle because I have not compared the two. This means that everything you read here about the sound of the Limited Edition also applies to the standard Silver 100 7G model.
The gold tweeter is the same on both versions. The standard version has the usual silver-anodised driver and a wider choice of finishes, including natural walnut, black oak, natural oak, rosewood, high gloss black, and satin white.
I still remember Mo Iqbal's enthusiasm when he first showed me the aluminium cones with and without a ceramic coating. Mo dropped both cones on a hard surface and the coated cone had a ‘dull’ sound while the uncoated cone sounded like sheet metal.
By eliminating the "ringing" effect, which was one of the biggest problems in making loudspeaker metal alloy speaker cones, he was finally able to take advantage of their lightness and structural rigidity.
The tweeter is a gold dome 25mm CCAM (Ceramic-Coated Aluminum/Magnesium). A compression ring is between the vented surround and the cone of the tweeter. This serves to improve the frequency response above 10 kHz. Uniform dispersion is ensured by a concave waveguard lens that further improves time alignment, and the entire unit is protected by a hexagonal pattern metal grille.
The bass-midrange driver is a 20 cm CCAM RST (Rigid Surface Technology) driver with an integral cone (no dust cap). Today's 7th generation CCAM woofer cones also have an embossed "dimple" pattern that makes the surface stiffer and facilitates air to flow over it.
They work together via a third-order crossover with a cut-off frequency of 2.8kHz. The stated nominal impedance is 8 ohms, and the sensitivity is 87dB, so this is an easy load to drive.
Since the introduction of the Platinum II Series, all midrange and bass drivers feature the clever "Dynamic Coupling Filter," a perforated nylon ring that is stiff up to the crossover frequency and acts like a spring above it. This further dampens the driver's excess high-frequency energy.
The Silver 100 is a 9.6-kilos 2-way monitor with a relatively large baffle (375x230x300mm). The design is boxy, with straight lines, sharp edges, and impeccable build quality, as is the case with all MA products.
Surprisingly, the cabinets (made in China) are not extensively braced on the inside, so they can sound a little hollow when you knock on the wooden panels. But when you play music, even at high volumes, you won't hear any unwanted resonance because the walls are covered with thick foam and two long screws connect the back panel to the driver assembly to stop vibrations. Note: Check that the screws have not come loose during transport.
On the back, you will find a cylindrical HiVe II reflex port with vertical ribs to speed up airflow and reduce turbulence, and two pairs of gold-plated terminals for bi-wiring and/or bi-amplification (remove the jumpers first) also mounted on a golden plate. First, remove the plastic caps with small pliers if you use cables with banana plugs.
Finally, there is a gold badge with the 50th-anniversary logo and unit number. That’s a lot of Gold for a product called Silver…
The Silver 100 comes with its fabric grilles, but with such a pretty face, magnetically attaching the grilles is like putting a burka on a beautiful woman. Also, the grilles degrade the sound quality. You’ll do better without them, trust me.
…attaching the grilles is like putting a burka on a beautiful woman…
Also included are two small foam plugs that tighten the bass by partially blocking the reflex port output when the speakers are too close to a wall, or the volume is very high.
The Silver 100s should be placed on stands and away from walls to prevent the bass from invading the lower midrange and giving voices too much chest. However, when I used them as a 'desktop monitor', I got surprising results, not only because they blended well in the near field, but also because I did not have to 'stuff' the ports with the foam ‘plugs'.
Do not expect them to dip very low, though (I measured -6 dB at 45 Hz relative to 200 Hz) but the bass has a lot of punch and is very articulate. This is definitively not the one-note bass type.
Excellent price-performance ratio
The dispersion angle of the huge 20 cm diameter bass-midrange unit decreases with increasing frequency, so the sound may lose some off-axis integration. This means that directionality is compromised when the speaker is not pointing directly at the listener. To listen in the near field, I recommend toeing them in.
The tweeter is mounted on the same wide baffle as the 20 cm bass-midrange driver. For this reason, there is also some diffraction of the high frequencies, which sometimes makes the sound seem less focused (a more diffuse sound) which can affect image specificity and depth. Nevertheless, the sound is great for a speaker of this size and price, which is a testament to how well the crossover has been designed, and the voicing done.
I noticed a small "dip" around the cut-off frequency, which was probably intentional, as it helps to reduce unwanted ‘forwardness’ (projection effect) without unduly affecting presence and detail. It also gives the Silvers a pleasing sense of balance and tonal refinement.
They are not as sensitive as MA claims, so they should be treated like speakers with a nominal impedance of 4 ohms. The more powerful the amplifier, the better the results.
I drove them with the Rose RS520 (250 W of Class AD), connected with cheap Inakustik cables, and they liked it so much that they asked for more. So did I and listened for hours.
… voices sound intelligible and human, never analytical...
The sound is beefy, yet refined, clear, and quite transparent. Voices sound clear and human, never analytical or overly sibilant, with a nice touch of tonal warmth, which is surprising for a speaker with aluminium cones. The speakers sound crisp yet tonally well-balanced, which in my experience is quite an achievement in this price range. They are also fast and dynamic without being abrupt. And sound coherent and stable, with a true and wide image. Finally, they can play loud without ever sounding harsh or strained.
I started with Let Us Roll by George Duke. The Silver 100 LE captured the impressive interplay of drummer and bassist and laid the rhythmic foundation on which the Hammond organ built the melody. I turned the volume up so high that I felt the drum pedal in the pit of my stomach and was blown away by the performance.
Tidal’s AI algorithm then took me for ‘a walk on the wild side’, and I ended up listening to TikTok Freak by Akon, which I would never have chosen, even though it had an impressive synth bass beat. The next song was Miami by Wisin & Yandel, featuring Jennifer Lopez which made my office seem like a crowded club in Ibiza.
When Mettalica took the stage shouting Lux Aeterna, my wife shouted from downstairs: What's wrong with you today, darling? Man, did I enjoy my late return to the heavy metal scene!
I am confessing that I love the Silver
As a precaution, I decided to cool down a bit with 'I am Confessing that I Love You' by the romantic voice of Dean Martin, which I often use to judge the amount of 'chest' in the male voice; while the following track from the album Turn Up the Quiet soothed me with the sensual voice of Diana Krall singing Nat King Cole's L.O.V.E. with a jazzy accompaniment of drum broom, double bass and a well-tempered piano.
From a large classical music catalogue, I chose for you Haydn's Violin Concerto No. 1 by the Munich Chamber Orchestra and the distinctive sound of Isabelle Faust's Stradivarius "Sleeping Beauty," which until now could only be reproduced to perfection by much more expensive speakers. This brought right into my listening room the intimate atmosphere of Schloss Elmau, with its wood-beamed ceiling, the recording venu in Bavaria, close to the Austrian border. Bravo, Monitor Audio!
Bookshelf of the Year 2022
Sometimes, I even thought I was listening to the Magico A1, my favourite compact monitor that costs ten times as much, especially when I pushed them hard and put the plugs in the port outputs to recreate a closed-box speaker sound.
…for this price (€1300) nothing compares to it…
I was impressed with the performance of the Monitor Audio Silver 100 7G Limited Edition, to say the least. For this price (€1300) nothing compares to it. So much so, that I hereby declare them the Bookshelf Speaker 2022.
Enough said, listen to it at Delaudio (or your local dealer), and then send a letter to Santa Klaus.